(For Twig, VJCool)
Since we happen to be in the mood for foreign movies lately, we readily took up some of our readers’ entreaties to watch the French film Delicatessen the other day.
Delicatessen is on Netflix Instant Play and so access to this movie is not an issue for our North American readers.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro directed this 1991 movie that debuted to favorable notices from both critics and the juries at various award ceremonies.
To our delight, Delicatessen turned out to be a classy, charming movie in many respects.
Set in post-war or post-apocalyptic times amidst sepiaesque ruined buildings, Delicatessen resembles the Johnny Depp film Sweeney Todd (2007) in its morbid, arresting central theme.
The movie centers around the lives of a bunch of oddball dwellers in a tall ramshackle apartment building lorded over by the butcher owner.
For us, one of the highlights of the film was fine photography by Darius Khondji (the man behind the camera in Woody Allen’s recent work of beauty Midnight in Paris). Often, moviegoers tend to dwell on the actors, the story or in the Indian case, the music.
Despite movies being a visual medium, seldom do we pay careful attention to the fast-moving images on the screen except in rare instances like an Avatar. Khondji is a master of his craft and it shows in Delicatessen and more so in Midnight in Paris, where the visual appeal is stunning.
The acting caliber of the main characters in Delicatessen is of a high order.
Dominique Pinon as the vulnerable former circus clown and current handyman Louison, Marie-Laure Dougnac as the butcher’s myopic daughter Julie Clapet aware of Louison’s impending fate, Jean-Claude Dreyfus as the butcher Clapet with the hideous, evil laugh and Karin Viard as the butcher’s pretty lover with expressive eyes are fine performers and render much joy.
There are some nice comic moments too, like the squeaky springs of the butcher’s bed that has the other dwellers doing their acts in sync.
But Delicatessen is not a great film.
There’s something missing.
Partly, it was the deja vu feeling we got from the story because we’d seen Sweeney Todd.
And perhaps because the violence always lurks in the background rather than in the foreground.
Also, the motivations, collusion and silence of the other tenants with the butcher’s gory acts puzzled us.
Did their desperate greed for cheap meat silence their tongues?
* A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop – We watched this Chinese film on a Blockbuster DVD.
A remake of the Coen brothers’ debut film Blood Simple, Chinese film-maker Zhang Yimou is the director of A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.
The movie is alright, just not a riveting entertainer.
The film centers around a rich, suspicious noodle-shop owner, his adulterous wife, her lover, two assistants and a crooked policeman.
With its strange twists and turns and fine photography, the movie makes for a decent watch.
Again, although we enjoyed the film and the acting we didn’t think the movie was extraordinary.
Is there no one else in the village except these characters?
The Noodle Shop in the title becomes superfluous after the initial few minutes or so.
Also, the repeated forays of the assistants into the owner’s den in the semi-dark silence seemed too contrived and repetitive after a while.